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COVID-19 Crisis: Could Coronavirus Be the Great Deregulator?
Tuesday, May 19, 2020

War, economic depressions, and other emergencies are seen as opportunities by big-government advocates and special interests to ratchet up the size and scope of government, as the Independent Institute’s (retired) Senior Fellow Robert Higgs demonstrated in his seminal book, Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government. Sadly, the coronavirus outbreak is no different.

But is there a silver lining? In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, Graham H. Walker (Executive Director) and Adam B. Summers (Research Fellow) at the Independent Institute examine how governments at all levels have themselves exposed the uselessness and counter-productivity of numerous laws in the way they have had to suspend them to respond to the crisis. This has prompted many to ask why those laws should ever have been passed in the first place.

From regulations that thwart the production and distribution of ventilators and protective masks; to occupational licensing laws that prevent doctors and nurses from offering their services across state lines; to “certificate of need” laws that require the permission not only of governments but also of one’s competitors to open new hospitals, increase the number of hospital beds, or purchase certain medical equipment; governments have been forced to suspend their own rules and restrictions to improve responses to the coronavirus crisis.

Still, other laws have been relaxed to lift the cap on truck drivers’ hours, allow for the delivery of alcohol and marijuana, and ease child care regulations. Imagine how many pointless and destructive laws in other industries could similarly be eliminated!

Graham H. Walker
Graham H. Walker is Executive Director and Assistant Editor for The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy at the Independent Institute. He received his Ph.D. in public law and government from the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Walker has served as Associate Professor of Politics at Catholic University of America, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, Visiting Scholar in Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ), Senior Research Scholar at the Witherspoon Institute, Headmaster at Oaks Christian School, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, President at Patrick Henry College, Legislative Aide to former Congressman David Stockman, and Fellow at the Presidio Institute.
Adam B. Summers
Adam B. Summers is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He previously worked as an editorial writer and columnist at the Orange County Register and its ten sister newspapers in the Southern California News Group, and a Senior Policy Analyst at the Reason Foundation. Summers holds an M.A. in economics from George Mason University and a B.A. with a double-major in economics and political science from the University of California, Los Angeles. His articles have been published by the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union-Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Washington Times, Baltimore Sun, Contra Costa Times, The Freeman, Reason, and many others. Summers has testified before state legislative committees in Arizona, California, Louisiana, and Michigan.

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